“I don’t like him,” the large man grunted from the doorway, fingers drumming on the hilt of his aged machete, having escorted the strange traveler from their small bandit village.

O-Baka hardly registered his companion’s complaint, lost in thought. He mulled over the visitor’s words, the quick-tongued samurai who seemed to understand their specific plight in the bandit camp. “Give him no mind,” he replied idly, still mulling over the stranger’s words. “He is no threat to us.” He ignored the brute’s departure from his small home.

An actual resistance, he considered, rubbing his chin. The samurai didn’t come here with force; he relied on guild instead. Maybe he does mean what he says about giving us a chance to start over. O-Baka moved to the window, watching the struggling village. Who among us would be willing to rise up? Life was difficult for most in the small hidden town, but for many it provided a vast improvement over their previous lives.

The trick, of course, would be to speak only to those who wouldn’t turn him in if the visitor’s plan were rejected. Valued for his mental acuity rather any semblance of martial prowess, if even one person made mention of his sowing dissatisfaction, O-Baka would be done for. All of the hidden village’s leadership were remorseless killers—who else would think to conduct regular raids against their former homelands—and disobedience was addressed publicly and with more than just a little finality.

How many would it take to make a difference? He posed silently to himself, mentally walking through the slapdash village and categorizing its inhabitants. The loose-robed samurai said he brought capable bushi and shugenja with him—how many would they account for?

O-Baka doubted he could convince even half of the camp’s capable fighters to join the strange cause; too many had tasted the wonton violence permitted—and sometimes required—by a life outside the Empire’s social order. With two days until the seasonal raid against the local peasant villages, he had to think fast, and move quicker.

More than anything, he had to hope the Tortoise samurai was as good as his word—a far better life awaited those who would join him in resisting the bandit leaders.

If any of them survived, at least.